Normalizing Relations with Cuba – My Opinon

Editor’s Note: Jose Perez is a Cuban native who lives in Gwinnett County. He is a former member of the Georgia State School Board, and presently serves on the state Charter School Commission. Prior to the election of President Obama in 2008, Perez penned an op-ed for the Gwinnett Daily Post expressing his concern about a future Obama administration.

Here, Perez provides his opinion on the President’s recently announced proposal to normalize relations with Cuba.

I am an American born in Cuba that believes capitalism is the best and most effective mechanism to organize economic and social activity. Is it perfect? Not by a long shot, however in the history of mankind there has not been another system that has more efficiently addressed the individual needs and wants of its citizens.

By most people’s account I am a practical man with a focus on facts that seldom allows emotions to get the best of me. As an American, I can see opening relations with Cuba as an internally consistent American policy; after all we are doing business with China and Vietnam, as well as with other non-communist countries with also terrible human rights tract records.

But, as a Cuban, Mr. President, I have difficulty believing your premise that by normalizing relations you are helping the Cuban people. Perhaps there is already a deal in the works with the Castro brothers. After all, they run the Cuban economy! They are self-appointed one-percenters that have acquired enormous family wealth without ever producing anything. They buy and sell everything in Cuba and then allocate what they think is right to his people. Is there a deal with the Guantanamo base you want to close and a Cruise Line donor? Or more strategically are we trying to prevent a Chinese foothold in our backyard?

Once a thriving economy, today Cuban economic prospects are dire. Conventional wisdom cause and effect blames the U.S. embargo. I do not. I blame Castro’s centralized controls with its diseconomies of scale and the individual disincentives to produce, for driving the Cuban economy into the ground. Cuba in fact trades with the rest of the world, so there is global demand for Cuban goods, but the problem is that Cuba cannot produce enough to satisfy demand. So, throwing additional U.S. demand their way is not going to resolve anything. All it will do is put American tax payer money in Castro’s pockets that they will use to raise havoc in the rest of the world instead of helping the Cuban people.

President Obama, if your intent is really to help both the American and the Cuban people then, negotiations to open relations must extract from Castro a re-establishment of the rule of law with the protection of private property. These protections would enable Cuba to attract the necessary investment and managerial talent necessary to improve production and satisfy global demand. Without these solutions the effort would become another American tax payer money pit and add to the illegal immigration problems that we already have.

8 comments

  1. Rick Day says:

    Interesting perspective and quite a positive post on the subject.

    I don’t think you will have to worry about “Castro” (Castros?) divesting their meager (by most despotic definitions) wealth to the people. We pay drug lords in Afghani caves more cash in a season to not murder our soldiers or sell them heroin than Fidel (Who I am sure is rolling in wealth at this point in his twilight days) made in a lifetime.

    Remember the CIA routinely tried to have him murdered. There are many dirty hands in all of this mess. Fidel will be dead soon; probably hanging on long enough to say “I win”.

    Hollow victory, if you ask me.

  2. CountPetofi says:

    I’ve never understood the embargo in the first place. We were punishing Fidel for what? Being a communist? Silly….Didn’t we beam radio broadcasts all through Europe (Radio Free Europe or some other such name) throughout the 50’s – 90’s saying how great the West was? I’m sure our farmers would love a new customer. Am I missing something here? Is it because they have a crappy civil rights record? Dozens of our trading partners have a bad record.

  3. Kent Kingsley says:

    Well written Mr. Perez. I agree with all your points with the exception the Castro brothers never produced anything. For decades the Castro brothers have produced suffering, fear, pain and death to the Cuban people. I hope in my life time Cuba will be a free and democratic country that treats its citizens with respect. We should not change our policy towards Cuba and reward bad behavior.

  4. John Konop says:

    ……President Obama, if your intent is really to help both the American and the Cuban people then, negotiations to open relations must extract from Castro a re-establishment of the rule of law with the protection of private property. These protections would enable Cuba to attract the necessary investment and managerial talent necessary to improve production and satisfy global demand. Without these solutions the effort would become another American tax payer money pit and add to the illegal immigration problems that we already have. …….

    Mr, Perez,

    In all do respect I agree up to this point. One all Cubans are allowed citizenship, not getting the illegal immigration angle. Finally we do not hold China, Saudi Arabia…..to the same standard on property and or ownership rights why Cuba?

  5. Will Durant says:

    We need to have diplomatic relations with a country 90 miles from our coast regardless of how we feel they should be governed. How many corrupt dictatorships, regardless of what they call themselves, have we not only tacitly condoned but supported? Especially in our own hemisphere. Fidel Castro became a tyrant, but was he that much worse than Batista? How about Pinochet in Chile? The Somoza family in Nicaragua? Military juntas in Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador… To take it to further abroad, how about deposing the only freely elected leader ever in Iran/Persia to place Shah Pahlavi on a throne? Propping up the “democratic” leaders of South Vietnam? Marcos in the Philipines….

    We relate to other countries as our own special influence peddlers dictate to our politicians, whether it is for sugar, oil, or the ol’ military industrial complex. As usual with our two party system though the constant is that if one side is fer it the other is agin it.

  6. Ed says:

    Does anyone honestly believe we would have this embargo if Cuban-Americans were not a politically significant bloc concentrated in Florida? That’s just me? OK…

  7. saltycracker says:

    It is a generational divide with Cubans. And the bloc has fairly shown the respect and contributions the pre-1980 Cubans have done as great immigrants. These Cuban-Americans want the present government to be replaced by Democracy.

    The business interests in America are lined up to get a piece of the action including hope for reclaiming ownerships nationalized by Castro. Working with both sides in this debate it might be possible to take a very positive step forward but our track record favors the have/have not scenario of deals with devils hammered out by well paid lobbyists. It’s complicated, but we need to start.

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